During film study this week, Coolidge coaches figured Mohave Valley River Valley had the speed to keep up with the Bears. The reality was Coolidge still had the superior quickness, and it showed.
Coolidge used its speed to amass 528 yards of total offense en route to a 55-7 victory Thursday over River Valley in the quarterfinals of the 3A state playoffs at Desert Ridge High School.
The Bears (10-1) advance to the semifinals to play Wickenburg, a 34-7 winner over Eagar Round Valley.
"We thought on film they would match up with us," Bears coach Carlo Hernandez said. "We were fortunate to make big plays."
Big plays were abundant as the Bears scored on seven of their eight first-half possessions. T.J White scored three touchdowns — on runs of 7 and 36 yards, and a reception of 13 yards — and quarterback Jesse Wheeler threw for a pair of touchdowns and rushed for a third.
"We got a lot of help up front," Wheeler said, crediting his offensive line. "And the coaches did a good job preparing us."
The biggest preparations were made for River Valley (8-3) star running back Chad Lucchino, who came into the game averaging more than 200 yards rushing per game. The Bears defense held him to eight yards on eight carries.
"Our defense had a lot to prove trying to shut down a great back," Hernandez said. "We wrapped up and played physical football."
The Bears defense forced four turnovers, including an interception by Damar White that he returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
Coolidge had five touchdowns brought back due to penalties, the only downside to a dominant performance.
"We made a lot of mistakes," Hernandez said. "We shouldn't be making those mistakes at this point."
The game was delayed for more than 30 minutes when River Valley linebacker Steven Talley was injured in the second quarter. Talley was taken from the field by ambulance. There was no word on his condition, but he was moving his arms and legs.
Jaime Cassillas added a pair of touchdowns for the Bears.